by Darlene Fung (V)
After 41 years of teaching Spanish, coaching, and running the annual holiday can drive at Pingry, Señor Victor Nazario is retiring.
Teaching and education have always been a part of Sr. Nazario’s life. “Academics has always been in my house,” he said. “We didn’t have a TV, so my grandfather read all the classics to me”. He also grew up with three aunts, all of whom were teachers, and in school, he always helped his classmates with their Spanish work.
Before coming to Pingry, Sr. Nazario taught, coached, and worked in a department store all at once. One day at the department store, he met Bill Lionetti, former head of Pingry’s language department, who mentioned that Pingry was looking for a Spanish teacher. Mr. Leonetti invited Sr. Nazario to his house to chat, and then introduced Sr. Nazario to the headmaster, Mr. Cunningham, who eventually hired him.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Sr. Nazario has also contributed greatly to the Pingry community through his annual holiday can drive. This past year, the Upper School raised over 1,000 pounds of cans this year, far more than ever raised before. Sr. Nazario started doing the can drive during his second year at Pingry. As he explains his involvement, “The assistant head of the school came to me and said ‘Vic, I think you can take care of this’, and that was it”.
He then met Ms. Rosa Floyd, who collected all the donated cans at her organization in Elizabeth, NJ, and became his role model for the years to come. Sr. Nazario said, “Everyone should have a Rosa Floyd in their life. She always gave, without asking for anything. Towards the end, she was using money that should have gone towards her medication, and giving it to those she said needed it more.” With Ms. Floyd as his example, Sr. Nazario was never fixated on number of cans he wanted people to donate. “I just wanted to give and help as many people as possible,” he said.
One piece of advice from his years of teaching that Sr. Nazario would like to give Pingry students and faculty alike is to follow your passions. He says, “You must love what you do, but you cannot make that thing the only aspect of your life. You should make it the central pole around which you build the rest of your life”.
One of Sr. Nazario’s favorite parts about teaching at Pingry is the camaraderie between the teachers in the language department. “We’re always trying to tickle ideas and see what we can done using our creativity,” he said.
Along with his fellow language teachers, Sr. Nazario will also greatly miss the students, who challenge and bring him joy every day.
“To tell you the truth, he said, “the kids are what I am going to miss the most from Pingry.”